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ResearchGroningen Institute of ArchaeologyResearchArchaeological Research of the GIA in the Sibaritide

Field projects

Excavating Timpona della Motta.
Excavating Timpona della Motta.


Timpone della Motta

Between the years 1993-2004 and between 2008 and 2010 the GIA conducted excavations in the sanctuary on the Timpone della Motta. These brought to light the remains of three superimposed sacred buildings (Vb-Vd) dating to the period from c. 800 to the middle of the 7th century BC.

The three excavated buildings provided valuable insights in the religious transformation of the sanctuary from an indigenous cult place in the 8th and early 7th century BC into a Greek inspired one in the 7th century BC. In the 6th century BC the sanctuary achieved the height of its monumentalisation.

Archaeological research at the Timpone della Motta site has targeted the issue of the cultural assimilation of indigenous and exogenous groups before and after the foundation of ancient Sibari.

Between 1963 and 1969, the Italian archaeologist Paola Zancani Montuoro started to excavate at the Iron Age Macchiabate Necropolis, situated at the foot of the Timpone della Motta hill. In 2009 the University of Basel, under the direction of Prof. M.A. Guggisberg and initially in collaboration with the Groningen Institute of Archaeology, started a new excavation project at the Macchiabate Necropolis. Its oldest tumuli burials were found to belong to an extended family, one branch of which is thought to have climbed to aristocratic rank in the mid-8th century BC because of its increasingly conspicuous display of wealth and status. The excavations of the University of Basel are now carried out independently.

Excavating Timpona della Motta.
Excavating Timpona della Motta.

Area Rovitti

The area Rovitti is located on the lower southern slope of the Timpone della Motta. A survey conducted in the area in 2007 had already revealed remains of pottery kilns and associated locally manufactured pottery from the 8th century BC. This indicated that a Kerameikos was active in the area during the Early Iron Age.

Excavation campaigns were carried out in 2009-2010, which brought to light two well-preserved dwelling (Structure A and Structure B) from the Early Iron Age containing high quantities of Oenotrian-Euboean pottery. The excavations carried out in the Rovitti area showed that the indigenous society experienced foreign influence, visible in the material culture, already from the end of the 9th century BC onwards. Within this framework, the identification of locally manufactured pottery of a clear Euboean matrix has raised notable attention and scholarly debate. This “Oenotrian-Euboean” pottery was until recently mainly attested in small amounts in the sanctuary on the Timpone della Motta, and was largely missing from the graves and habitation areas of the Early Iron Age.


Attema P.A.J., Delvigne J., Drost E., Kleibrink M. 2000 , Habitation on Plateau I of the hill Timpone della Motta (Francavilla Marittima, Italy): a preliminary report based on surveys, test pits and test trenches in Palaeohistoria 39/40 (1977/1998), Rotterdam, pp. 375-411.

Attema P.A.J., Burgers G. J., van Leusen P. M. 2010 , Regional Pathways to complexity. Settlement and land-use dynamics in early Italy from the bronze age to the republican period, Amsterdam.

Colelli C., Jacobsen Kindberg J. 2013 , Excavation on the Timpone della Motta. Francavilla Marittima (1991-2004). II. Iron Age Impasto Pottery, Bari.

Fasanella Masci M. forthcoming, La produzione della ceramica geometrica enotria nella Sibaritide. Studio comparativo sulle tecnologie di foggiatura. Phd Thesis, University of Groningen, Groningen.

Guggisberg M.A., Colombi C., Spichtig N. 2013 , Gli scavi dell’Università di Basilea nella necropoli Enotria di Francavilla Marittima, Bollettino d’Arte, 15, luglio-settembre 2012, Serie VII), Tivoli (RM), pp. 1-18.

Ippolito forthcoming , Before the Iron Age: the oldest settlement in the Sibaritide, Calabria (Italy), PhD Thesis, University of Groningen.

Jacobsen J.K. 2007 , Greek pottery on the Timpone della Motta and in the Sibaritide from c. 780 to 620 B.C. Reception, distribution and evaluation of Greek pottery as a source material for the study of Greek influence before and after the founding of ancient Sybaris, PhD Thesis, University of Groningen, Groningen.

Jacobsen J.K., Handberg S. 2010 , Excavation on the Timpone della Motta. Francavilla Marittima (1992-1994). I. Greek pottery, Biblioteca Archeologica, Bari.

Kleibrink M. 2001 , The search for Sybaris: an evaluation of historical and archaeological evidence, BABesch 68, 76.

Kleibrink M. 2006 , Oenotrians at Lagaria near Sybaris, a native proto-urban centralised settlement. A preliminary report on the excavation of the timber dwellings on the Timpone della Motta near Francavilla Marittima, Southern Italy, London.

Kleibrink M., Jacobsen J.K., Handberg S. 2004 , Water for Athena: votive gifts at Lagaria (Timpone della Motta, Francavilla Marittima, Calabria), in R. Osborne (ed.), The objects of dedication, in WorldA, 36, London, pp. 43-68.

Pacciarelli M. 2010 , Verso i centri protourbani. Situazioni a confronto da Etruria meridionale, Campania e Calabria, Scienze dell’Antichità, 15 (2009), Roma, pp. 371-416.

Peroni R., Trucco F. (eds.) 1994 , I-II, Enotri e Micenei nella Sibaritide, Broglio di Trebisacce, Taranto.

Vanzetti A., Ferranti F. Quondam F. 2014 , L’età del ferro del Cosentino nelle collezioni del Museo, in Cerzoso M., Vanzetti A. (eds.), Museo dei Bretti e degli Enotri, Catalogo dell’esposizione, Soveria Mannelli, pp. 45-48.

Surveying a freshly ploughed field.
Surveying a freshly ploughed field.


Between 1991 and 2000 the Groningen Institute of Archaeology carried out topographic surveys in the area between Timpone della Motta and Broglio di Trebisacce and revisited archaeological sites in the hinterland that had been recorded since the 1980s by the local Sparviere Speleological Group. The collaboration between speleologists and GIA archaeologists made it possible to bring together the documentation of various site visits done by both parties in the past. From 2000 onwards a systematic approach to the landscape was introduced with the start of the Raganello Archaeological Project. So far intensive surveys have been undertaken in the foothills of Francavilla, from Timpone della Motta-Macchiabate up to the Contrada Damale which is bounded by the river Caldana at Cerchiara. Surveys have also been conducted in the territories of Civita and San Lorenzo Bellizzi. In 2005 P.M. van Leusen started the Hidden Landscape Project, in which he studied the effects of the anthropogenic and natural processes on the archaeological landscape in the Raganello valley.

By 2010, about 13 square kms, or 4% of the study area had been surveyed. Intensive survey proved possible only in accessible areas, with a high percentage of worked (ploughed) and unenclosed/open land, like in the foothill zones. In the upland zone, land use tends to be much less intensive, because of steep outcrops of limestone rocks, vegetation coverage, and limited accessibility. As a consequence, it was not always possible to carry out intensive surveys in that area. Extensive and topographic surveys were conducted instead. Extensive surveys were done in the area of Monte Sellaro (Cerchiara), Civita, San Lorenzo and Frascineto. In 2011, van Leusen and de Neef started the Rural Life Project in Protohistoric Italy which concentrated on the detection, evaluation and classification of small protohistoric pottery scatters through a combination of intensive artefact survey, geophysical prospecting and test pitting.

Field-walking surveys by the Groningen Institute of Archaeology in the Sibaritide have shown that protohistoric sites are mostly represented on the surface by worn and often poorly preserved pottery sherds that are difficult to date. As a consequence, understanding how surface artefact scatters can define chronology and function of sites became one of the goals of research within the Raganello Archaeological Project. This implied the development of additional material study strategies that led to detailed and effective typological and archaeometric analysis on pottery. Further field investigations, such as geophysical, geoarchaeological, and remote sensing techniques, together with botanical, archaeozoological and environmental analyses have been conducted aiming for a holistic landscape archaeology.

The field surveys have resulted in a rich archaeological database on archaeological sites from prehistory to the Roman period that is currently being prepared for publication in the Raganello Basin Studies of the Groningen Institute of Archaeology .


Attema P.A.J. 2002 , Two challenges for Landscape Archaeology, in Attema P.A.J., Burgers G.-J., Joolen van E., Leusen van M., Mater B. (eds.), New developments in Italian Landscape Archaeology, BAR 1091, Oxford, pp. 18-27.

Attema P.A.J., Burgers G. J., van Leusen P. M. 2010 , Regional Pathways to complexity. Settlement and land-use dynamics in early Italy from the bronze age to the republican period, Amsterdam.

Attema P.A.J., Ippolito F. forthcoming, Il Progetto Archeologico Raganello (RAP) – Sviluppo insediativo di lunga durata nell’hinterland della Sibaritide protostorica, Atti del Convegno “Centri fortificati indigeni della Calabria dalla protostoria all’età ellenistica,” Collana Archeologie. Temi e metodi, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Centro Interdipartimentale di Studi per la Magna Grecia, Napoli.

De Neef W. forthcoming, Rural life in Protohistoric Italy: Relating subsurface remains to archaeological survey data, Phd Thesis, University of Groningen, Groningen.

Feiken H. 2014 , Dealing with biases. Three geo-archaeological approaches to the hidden landscapes of Italy, PhD Thesis, University of Groningen, Groningen.

Feiken H., Van Beek R., Van Asch T., Van Leusen M. 2011 , CALEROS: an erosion-deposition model for landscape archaeology, in Van Leusen M., Pizziolo G., Sarti L. (eds.), Hidden Landscapes of Mediterranean Europe, Proceedings of the international meeting, Siena, Italy, May 25-27, 2007, Oxford, pp. 13-16.

Haagsma B.J. 1996, Survey in de Sibaritide, Calabrië. Een preliminair verslag van drie campagnes, TMA 17, Eelde, pp. 47-52.

Ippolito F. forthcoming, Before the Iron Age: the oldest settlement in the Sibaritide, Calabria (Italy), PhD Thesis, University of Groningen.

Peroni R., Trucco F. (eds.) 1994 , I-II, Enotri e Micenei nella Sibaritide, Broglio di Trebisacce, Taranto.

van Leusen P.M. 2002 , Pattern to process. Methodological investigations into the formation and interpretation of spatial patterns in archaeological landscapes, PhD Thesis, University of Groningen, Groningen.

van Leusen P.M. 2012 , The Rural Life Project Autumn 2012 field campaign (RL2012-2): preliminary report, Groningen.

van Leusen P.M. 2013 , The Rural Life Project: preliminary report on the Spring 2013 field campaign (RL2013-1), Groningen Institute of Archaeology, 19 April 2013, p. 1.

van Leusen, P.M. 2015 , Predicting and detecting protohistoric remains in the Raganello Basin: methodological studies 2006-2015, in G. Pizziolo & L. Sarti (eds), Predicting Prehistory. Predictive models and field research methods for detecting prehistoric contexts. Proceedings of the International Workshop Grosseto (Italy), September 19-20, 2013 (MILLENNI Studi di archeologia preistorica 11), Museo e Istituto Fiorentino di Preistoria, Firenze pp. 123-132.

van Leusen M., Attema P.A.J. 2001-2002 , Regional archaeological patterns in the Sibaritide. Preliminary results oft he RPC field survey campaign 2000, Palaeohistoria 42/43, Groningen, pp. 1-23.

Last modified:09 May 2017 2.11 p.m.